For this post when I refer to ‘Football’ it is in regards to what some call ‘soccer.’ I do this because I live in a country that uses the term football, so therefore I use it. It’s called ‘assimilation,’ so if you complain just stay in places where you call it soccer, because no one will want to hear you walk around telling everyone ‘Well where I come from we call em French Fries!’
Eleven or so years ago I thought I would give football fandom a try. I was finishing up university and my one roommate would watch all the time. Up until this point the only English team I had ever heard of was Manchester United and David Beckham and was absolutely sick of it. When ESPN did show highlights it was only of that club and 90% of the time it was Beckham. If you’re going to force something on me I will grow to resent it, which is exactly what happened.
Now my football watching roommate was an Ajax (Dutch League) fan, but would watch English Premier League on occasion. One time just as I sat down some hack on ManU flopped like a fish that just landed in a boat. I asked him ‘Who is ManU’s biggest rival?’ He listed out some other teams like Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. My follow-up question was ‘Which fan base just despises them though?’ I’ll never for get his answer: ‘Well that would be Manchester City, but they’re shit.’
I have never been one to pick a team based on record alone, I mean I am a Detroit Lions fan. However, my fandom for Manchester City was born right then and there. I already enjoyed their stance on the club across town, and just enjoyed it more and more as I dug deeper into their history.
As football’s popularity has grown in the US, I was able to watch more and more matches, and even playing the FIFA games has helped me know who is on what team, and about other leagues. I even began to have access to apparel and forums where I could discuss City’s matches, transfers and anything I spent years wanting to discuss but had no one else to talk to.
This past weekend, March 5, 2016, I was able to attend my first City match. Making our way to the Etihad (got my buddy from Dublin to join me) was an incredible experience. Seeing the place I had viewed so many times on a television, thousands of miles away was now directly in front of me. It was surreal. I saw the spot where Aguerooooooooo brought the trophy back after 40+ years. I saw the man play in person, and he is even more incredible in the flesh. Silva, Yaya, Hart, and El Capitane himself, Vincent Kompany all in front of me. I still haven’t gotten over the high of it all.
Manchester itself was a great time. The people, the ease of getting around the city and the prices (much cheaper than London) made this a great experience. I never got over seeing all sorts of City apparel around town. I got a few confused looks as I stared too long, but I mean I SAW PEOPLE IN ACTUAL CITY APPAREL. It was like a dream, one I hope to repeat as often as possible.